Toward quantifying the abuse liability of ultraviolet tanning: A behavioral economic approach to tanning addiction

Derek D. Reed, Brent A. Kaplan, Amel Becirevic, Peter G. Roma, Steven R. Hursh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Many adults engage in ultraviolet indoor tanning despite evidence of its association with skin cancer. The constellation of behaviors associated with ultraviolet indoor tanning is analogous to that in other behavioral addictions. Despite a growing literature on ultraviolet indoor tanning as an addiction, there remains no consensus on how to identify ultraviolet indoor tanning addictive tendencies. The purpose of the present study was to translate a behavioral economic task more commonly used in substance abuse to quantify the "abuse liability" of ultraviolet indoor tanning, establish construct validity, and determine convergent validity with the most commonly used diagnostic tools for ultraviolet indoor tanning addiction (i.e., mCAGE and mDSM-IV-TR). We conducted a between-groups study using a novel hypothetical Tanning Purchase Task to quantify intensity and elasticity of ultraviolet indoor tanning demand and permit statistical comparisons with the mCAGE and mDSM-IV-TR. Results suggest that behavioral economic demand is related to ultraviolet indoor tanning addiction status and adequately discriminates between potential addicted individuals from nonaddicted individuals. Moreover, we provide evidence that the Tanning Purchase Task renders behavioral economic indicators that are relevant to public health research. The present findings are limited to two ultraviolet indoor tanning addiction tools and a relatively small sample of high-risk ultraviolet indoor tanning users; however, these pilot data demonstrate the potential for behavioral economic assessment tools as diagnostic and research aids in ultraviolet indoor tanning addiction studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-106
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior.


  • behavioral addiction
  • behavioral economics
  • demand
  • hypothetical purchase task
  • tanning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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